Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – July 2021

Another month has flown by and it’s time for another wrap up.

July was a great reading month. I read 16 books, took part in one book club readalong and 18 blog tours. Below is a quick summary of what I read this month:

False Witness by Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter is one of my favourite crime writers and book she releases is on my must-read list. I was particularly excited about reading False Witness as it was a standalone, and it’s been a while since I read one of those from her. It did not disappoint. Once again she delivered a first-class thriller that was dark, twisted and sinister. Thrillers don’t get better than this.
Rating:  ✮✮✮✮✮

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

A Cut For A Cut (Kate Young 2) by Carol Wyer

Carol is another of my go-to crime authors. Her newest series is her darkest yet, and I’m loving it. A Cut For A Cut sees Kate Young once again embroiled in an investigation when she and her son find the body of a young man while diving. It had my totally hooked from the start and didn’t let go. If you are looking for an exhilarating and propulsive thriller, then this is for you.
Rating:  ✮✮✮✮✮

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

The Rule by David Jackson

The Rule is a readable thriller about family, love, and the lengths a parent will go to to protect their child. I really liked Daniel, the young man at the centre of the story, and the themes of duality the author used throughout.
Rating: ✮✮✮✰✰

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

The Tsarina’s Daughter by Ellen Alpsten

One of my most anticipated books of the year, I luxuriated in every word of this absolute masterpiece. The second book in her Romanov series follows Tsarevna Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great. She is a fascinating historical figure and I loved expanding my knowledge of an era that has long fascinated me. Dazzling, captivating and truly magnificent, this is a joy for history and literature lovers alike. I’m now counting down to book three!
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz

Just as the tagline says, this is not another novel about a dead girl. In her startling debut, Jacqueline Bublitz has taken the familiar narratives we see in psychological thrillers and given them an original twist. Instead of asking whodunnit, she asks who was the victim? What was her story? And what can we learn from her? She also asks who was the person who discovered the victims broken body? And how did that discovery after them?

Breathtakingly beautiful, hypnotic, mesmerising and unflinching, this book went right to my soul. I’m still thinking about it almost a month after reading. It stands out not only amongst the mystery and thriller books I’ve read this year, but all the ones I’ve ever read. This is a must-read for thriller lovers and the author is a talent to watch.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

Songbirds by Christy Lefteri

Songbirds is a beautiful story that gives a voice to the voiceless. In this harrowing and heartbreaking tale, the author explores the world of transient and migrant workers, shining a light on their experiences and the institutionalised racism they face. She also highlights how this racism runs so deep that the authorities won’t search for them if they go missing, claiming they must have just moved on instead. A richly drawn novel full of memorable characters, beautiful imagery and exquisite storytelling, this is a story that needs to be read.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

The Painting by Alison Booth

The Painting is a simple yet enlightening story. A portrait of totalitarianism, immigration, family and self-discovery, it tells the story of Anika, a Hungarian immigrant living in Australia after being forced to flee her oppressively homeland. One of the few possessions she brought with her was a valuable painting. After it is stolen in what appears to be a targeted robbery, Anika is forced to confront uncomfortable questions about her family’s past. This book surprised me as it took a different, but fascinating, turn to what I was expecting. A captivating and moving story that I would recommend.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

Mr Todd’s Reckoning by Iain Maitland

An ordinary man on an ordinary street is hiding grim secrets in this dark and sinister thriller. I listened to this book as part of the audiobook blog tour and it chilled me to the bone. I had struggled to get into it at first, but am so glad I stuck with it as this was a gripping and unnerving psychological thriller that I couldn’t stop listening to.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

The Art of Loving You by Amelia Henley

The Art of Loving You is an exploration of love, grief and the afterlife. It looks at how we find meaning in life when it seems to have become meaningless and what we do with the love we have for someone when they die. Heartbreaking yet hopeful, it follows Libby, who is left devastated after the sudden death of her soulmate Jack. Full of wonderful characters and some truly tender and beautiful moments, I couldn’t put this down.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

Mrs England by Stacey Halls

Mrs England with the Tasting Notes Book Club for July. I am a huge fan of Stacey Halls so I was excited for this book and the online book club meeting. Wonderfully written, atmospheric and compelling, this is one of those books that is even better after you’ve thought about it for a few days and realised that things weren’t what they first appeared. For me, one of the best things about reading a book with others is the way you can read the same book yet see things so differently. This was the best Tasting Notes Book Club yet and I enjoyed the book even more after hearing about it from the author and exploring it with others in greater detail. This is an ideal read for anyone who enjoys historical fiction.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

Review to come
Buy the book here*

You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry

This warm, witty, slow-burning romance was the perfect summer read to get lost in. Poppy and Alex were fun to read and had a great dynamic. But my favourite thing about the book is the escapism it offered. I loved being able to live vicariously through the characters and travel to different countries from my back garden during a pandemic.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

Girls Who Lie (Forbidden Iceland Book 2) by Eva Björg Aegisdottir

Girls Who Lie is the second book in the Forbidden Iceland series, but was the first one I’ve read. The author quickly catches you up and it was easy to keep up with the characters making it easy to read even without the first book. A harrowing, complex and multilayered thriller, this was another amazing read from Orenda Books. I will definitely be reading the first book in the series and any further installments. Perfect for crime fiction fans.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

Read my review here
buy the book here*

The Woman in the Water by Kelly Heard

The Woman in the Water is a story about a fractured family, tragic death and search for answers. Though it was predictable in places, the author leaves you with enough doubt and unanswered questions that you keep turning the pages, needing to know more. A dark, tense and twisty read that fans of the genre will enjoy.
Rating: ✮✮✮.5

Read my review here
Buy the book here

The Secret Life of Writers by Guillaume Musso

Books, murder and mystery. What more could I want? Utterly mesmerising and addictive, I devoured this book. Perfectly plotted, intricately woven and full of tension, this is a masterclass in storytelling. The Secret Life of Writers is a stylish, sharp and suspenseful thriller that is so twisty it will make your head spin. After reading it I understand why Guillaume Musso is known as the French suspense king.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

The Face at the Window by Ruby Speechley

This is one of those books that’s a bit like an iceberg: what you see at first is only a part of what is actually going on. The author slowly unveils the truth, weaving together the layers to create a complex and intricate thriller. Themes of domestic violence and coercive control are explored in various ways through out the book and it is clear it is well researched. Unnerving and affecting, I would recommend this to fans of the genre.
Rating: ✮✮✮.5

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

That Night by Gillian McAllister

Wow! Just, wow! I have been a fan of Gillian McAllister since the first time I read one of her books, but this is her best one yet. Taut, tense and twisty, this riveting thriller had me hooked. A multilayered and complex story, there is so much more to it than meets the eye. Jaw-dropping and unexpected revelations pulled the rug from under me repeatedly and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. That Night is a must read for anyone who enjoys an intelligent, sharp and sensational thriller.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Review to follow
Buy the book here*

********

I swear that it’s getting harder and harder to choose a favourite each month, as there are just so many high-quality books being written. It was really difficult to choose this month and after getting it down to two, I just couldn’t pick between them. Therefore, my books of the month for July are The Tsarina’s Daughter and Before You Knew My Name.

********

What did you read this month? Did we read any of the same books?

********

Thanks for reading this month’s wrap up. See you next month Emma xxx

Thank you to the publishers for my gifted proof copies and eBook ARCS.

*These are affiliate links

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Face at the Window by Ruby Speechley

Published: July 28th, 2021
Publisher: Hera Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Noir Fiction, Urban Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
Format: Kindle

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this tense and twisty thriller. Thank you to Sarah at Books on the Bright Side for the invitation to take part and Hera Books for the gifted eBook ARC.

********

SYNOPSIS:

They’re in your house.

They want your life.

And now, they have your baby.

To the world, I’m @HappyWife. Online, people only see my picture-perfect home, my handsome husband, Nick, and my beautiful baby, Thomas.

They don’t see the real Gemma Adams. They don’t see my past, the dark secrets I’m hiding in my marriage. They don’t see the fear I live in every single day.

But I know someone is watching me. And now, they’ve taken Thomas.

I just don’t know why.

But I’m going to stop at nothing to get my baby back.

Even if it destroys everything I’ve got to find him.

A compelling thriller, packed with suspense – fans of K.L. Slater and Lisa Jewell won’t be able to put it down.

********

MY REVIEW:

“A few nice photos of your house and they think they know you, that you must be living the perfect life. If only they knew.”

TW: Domestic abuse

Gemma and her husband Nick seem to have the ideal life: a happy marriage, picture-perfect home and a beautiful newborn baby. But behind the shiny image they portray to the outside world is something much darker. A life where Gemma lives in fear of saying or doing the wrong thing and Nick has all the control. 

Scarlett and her lover Cole are soulmates. As soon as his divorce is finalised they are going to be together properly. Forever. At least that’s what he’s promised her. So when he suddenly ends their relationship Scarlett is shocked, and determined to win back her man. But as she starts to think that he has in fact lied to her, her thoughts instead turn to revenge. Leading her to take drastic and shocking action to make him pay for what he did. 

This is one of those books that’s a bit like an iceberg: what you see at first is only a part of what is actually going on beneath the surface. Taut, tense and twisty, the author shifts seamlessly between timelines to slowly unveil the layers in the story, weaving them together to craft a complex and intricate thriller. And while there were some things that were easy to predict, there were so many unanswered questions, unexpected revelations and misdirection that it kept you on your toes and avoided feeling predictable. 

Gemma and Scarlett felt like they could be any young woman you know.  They are close in age but their lives couldn’t be more different, a contrast that is compelling. Gemma in particular was very likeable and reading her felt like I could have been reading about myself many years ago. I just wanted to help her break free of Nick’s grasp. Scarlett had her charms, but she also did a lot of messed up things in the name of revenge that disturbed me. But while the author doesn’t make excuses for her, she does show the reader her motivations, helping us to understand her behaviour. I found myself often empathising with her, even if I didn’t agree with what she was doing. Then there’s Nick; a vile, abusive man who made my stomach churn and blood boil. The author got the mix of charm and viciousness down to perfection so you could understand both how Gemma fell in love with him and why she was so scared. 

The author explores the topic of domestic violence and coercive control in a multitude of ways throughout this book. She looks at how people find themselves in these kinds of relationships, what it is like to live in a relationship dominated by escalating abuse and control, and the aftermath of abuse and what that means for those who survived. As a domestic abuse survivor I appreciated the honesty and sensitivity with which she wrote. It is clear that she has done her research and was so realistic that it did bring back memories of my own experience. But it is also a book that educates and makes you think, helping those who don’t have any experience of these kinds of situations to understand how easily anyone can find themselves trapped in that kind of life. I also liked that she showed the many facets of abuse and control and appreciated her note at the end with places to go to for help for those who need it. 

Unnerving, explosive and affecting, this was a gripping thriller that I’d recommend to fans of the genre. 

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Ruby Speechley is the author of four psychological thrillers published by Hera Books. She loves writing about domestic situations with plenty of twists and secrets.

She was born in Portugal but has lived in the UK since she was three months old. She now lives in Cheshire with her husband and two of her three children and two dogs. She has an older son and grandson.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon | Google Books | Apple Books | Kobo

********

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours Book Features Q&A

Q&A with Tim Ewins, Author of We Were Animals

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour celebrating the paperback publication of We Are Animals. This is our first official Squadpod On Tour and I’m excited to bring you a Q&A with Tim today.

*********

Q: What inspired the idea for We Are Animals?

I don’t really know what the idea for We Are Animals was. I just wanted to write a book, and my idea about writing a book about how to write a book fell apart pretty quickly, because I didn’t know how to write a book. Also, I’m pretty sure it’s already been written by much smarter people. I think We Are Animals started as a collage, with parts from my old travel blog and small facts about my relationship with my wife scattered around a very loose plot.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about the book?

I can! I can tell you a bit about the book in the style of an author: It’s a book about fate and love, but I wouldn’t say it’s a romance novel. I like the idea of it being uplit fiction, because at every stage of writing I wanted to reflect the goodness in people and in nature. And I can tell you a bit about the book in a very literal sense: It’s about a bloke on a beach that meets a kid on a beach and tells that kid his life story. They both get drunk and watch a cow dance to dance music.

Q: Who is your favourite character in the book?

I think probably Hylad’s partner, Michael. Michael is only a small character, and when he’s introduced, he comes across as quite grumpy and a little unlikeable, but as the plot goes on, we watch him put his whole life on hold to help and support Hylad. He’s the rock that keeps Hylad going. I think Michael is what every partner should be to their significant other. Also, I do quite like that dancing cow.

Q: What was your favourite scene to write?

There are a lot of mini-stories in We Are Animals which explain some of the smaller character’s backstories. They were always the most fun parts to write, and there was a certain pleasure in making these seemingly unconnected stories become relevant to the main plot several chapters later. There is one particular backstory which stands out though. I really enjoyed writing about the lives of Ebba and Olivia. The section only lasts a few pages, but I remember writing it and feeling so sad because their story is really quite tragic. That scene came out so quickly that I felt like I was reading it rather than writing it.

Q: What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

Time. Sometimes, even just writing a sentence, it’s hard to find the time to fi

Q: Are there any hidden ‘Easter Eggs’ in the book, e.g. that only people who know you would get?

Absolutely! The boat Moondance has the same name as my dad’s fishing boat. My mate and I used to work in a box factory. I literally know Shakey – I go for a drink with him every week, and I met Manjan a while back in Malaysia. The reason Ladyjan isn’t typically Swedish looking is because Ladyjan looks exactly like my wife (and she’s from Whitby)… the list really
does go on. The guy who I used to work with in the box factory read We Are Animals recently and he told me after that finding the little easter eggs was his favourite part of the book (which, on reflection, may have been an insult).

Q: What was your journey to publication like?

I have a spreadsheet full of rejection and a list of the reasons why publishers and agents don’t want to work with me, so I think probably quite normal. Working with Eye and Lightning Books (my publisher) has been amazing though. They really care about all the books they publish, so I went from no-one reading my novel to a group of people taking the time to go through it with a fine-tooth comb and working with me to get it perfect. I don’t think I could have asked for anything more. When it came out it was on e-only format and now, a year later, it’ll be out in paperback, so I’ve been lucky enough to ride two waves!

Q: What’s the best thing about being a published author?

It is just so nice that people are reading the book. When I was writing, I never really knew if anyone would read it (other than my mum), but the fact that strangers are reading it now is beyond what I could ever have dreamed of.

Q: What kind of books do you like reading? Any current favourites?

I like anything a bit cute or surreal. I love Andrew Kaufman and Jonas Jonassan. I’ve recently been reading Ronan Hession’s books (Leonard and Hungry Paul, and Panenka) and I think I’ve found my new favourite author in him (he also makes nice music to write to under the name Mumblin’ Deaf Ro, so that’s a double win). I’m on a real reading streak at the moment so I could list a million books here that I’ve loved recently; The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn, Perfect on Paper by Gillian Harvey, Whatever You Are Is Beautiful by Richard Blandford, Marrow Jam by Susan A King. Honestly, the list could go on and on.

Q: When do you find time to write? Do you have a ‘writing routine’?

I made a joke earlier about time, which I can only apologise for, but it really is one of the hardest parts of writing for me (and plot, that’s hard too). I work a full-time job and have a toddler, so my writing routine has always consisted of writing an hour in my lunch breaks at work, writing on the bus to and from work and occasionally whilst watching Love Island. We Are Animals was written entirely on an iPad. Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite follow one series of Love Island as closely as I’d have liked to, but I hear they’re all on Netflix now anyway, so…

Q: What are you working on at the moment?

I’m waiting to get some edits back on my second novel, which I cannot wait to share. The story is very close to me. The main character is based on my Nan, and again, it’s about fate and love, but I wouldn’t say it’s a romance novel. Maybe after that I’ll try to write a book about how to write a book…

We Are Animals is out now.

********

You can get 30% off your copy of the book using the code above until 8th August here

*******

SYNOPSIS:

A cow looks out to sea, dreaming of a life that involves grass.

Jan is also looking out to sea. He’s in Goa, dreaming of the passport-thief who stole his heart (and his passport) forty-six years ago. Back then, fate kept bringing them together, but lately it seems to have given up.

Jan has not. In his long search he has accidentally held a whole town at imaginary gunpoint in Soviet Russia, stalked the proprietors of an international illegal lamp-trafficking scam and done his very best to avoid any kind of work involving the packing of fish. Now he thinks if he just waits, if he just does nothing at all, maybe fate will find it easier to reunite them.

His story spans fifty-four years, ten countries, two imperfect criminals (and one rather perfect one), twenty-two different animals and an annoying teenager who just…

Will…

Not…

Leave.

But maybe an annoying teenager is exactly what Jan needs to help him find the missing thief?

Featuring a menagerie of creatures, each with its own story to tell, We Are Animals is a quirky, heart-warming tale of lost love, unlikely friendships and the certainty of fate (or lack thereof).

For the first time in her life the cow noticed the sun setting, and it was glorious.

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Tim Ewins had an eight-year stand-up career alongside his accidental career in finance, before turning to writing fiction.

He has previously written for DNA Mumbai, had two short stories highly commended and published in Michael Terence Short Story Anthologies, and had a very brief acting stint (he’s in the film Bronson, somewhere in the background).

He lives with his wife, son and dog in Bristol. We Are Animals is his first novel.

********

Don’t miss the Cake and Cocktail blast on August 3rd and check the hashtags to read reviews from the Squadpod Ladies.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Secret Life of Writers by Guillaume Musso

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: W&N
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Travel Literature
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this absolute masterpiece. Thank you to Alex Layt at Orion for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

********

SYNOPISIS:

In 1999, after publishing three cult novels, celebrated author Nathan Fawles announces the end of his writing career and withdraws to Beaumont, a wild and beautiful island off the Mediterranean coast.

Autumn 2018. As Fawles’ novels continue to captivate readers, Mathilde Monney, a young Swiss journalist, arrives on the island, determined to unlock the writer’s secrets and secure his first interview in twenty years.

That same day, a woman’s body is discovered on the beach and the island is cordoned off by the authorities.

And so, begins a dangerous face off between Mathilde and Nathan, in which the line between truth and fiction becomes increasingly blurred…

********

MY REIVEW:

“I knew that fate had set me on a path towards a story that someone had to tell. A true story, more compelling than any work of fiction, and one which I sensed had only just begun.”

Books, murder and mystery. What more could I want in a novel? As soon as I read the synopsis I knew this was a book I HAD to read. It’s almost like it was written for me. And it was perfect. An absolute masterpiece that was so mesmerising and addictive that I never wanted it to end. 

The Secret Life of Writers reads like a book within a book. It starts when Raphael arrives on the Isle of Beaumont hoping to solve the ‘mystery of Nathan Fawles’, the reclusive writer who has isolated himself on the island since suddenly retiring from writing at the peak of his career almost twenty years before. But after the brutal murder of a young woman, the story widens to include a murder investigation and another mystery involving the incredible journey of a lost camera and and unspeakable secret that Fawles is hiding and journalist Mathilde claims to know. 

“A noose tightened around my chest. I was shaking all over. When I opened the freezer, I couldn’t hold back a scream. The inside had been repainted. With blood.” 

Guillaume Musso is known as the ‘French suspense king’, and after reading this book, I can see why. This novel is a masterclass in storytelling. Expertly written with a dash of finesse, it is hypnotic, and I was under its spell from the first pages. Every word is infused with an air of mystery, and there is a palpable tension that makes your heart race. Perfectly plotted, it is more intricate and complex than it first appears, and every time you think you’ve figured out what’s going on Musso throws in another curveball. He’s so good that you don’t see it coming; expertly luring you into that false sense of security where you think you know what’s next and then pulls the rug from under you. 

Told with breathtakingly beautiful imagery and prose, I found myself wanting to annotate almost every other sentence. The author not only does he bring the characters to life, but the place too. His descriptions of the Isle of Beaumont are so evocative that I felt like I could see the Provincial main square, the turquoise water and the colourful houses glinting in the sun. It felt real, just as the story felt like I was reading a true crime novel rather than a work of fiction.

“Books not only break walls down, they build them up too. More often than you’d think, they wound, and shatter, and kill. Books may dazzle and shine, but all that glitters is not gold. “

The characters are richly drawn and compelling. I loved how Nathan and Mathilde are both enigmatic characters and yet Raphael is more open. With Nathan especially you never know if you can trust what he’s telling you, and I enjoyed being kept guessing and the surprises this threw my way.  I loved how each of them were writers and the observations the author made about books, reading and writing. He captured so many of my own feelings about the topics which, along with having my favourite subject woven into the plot, made me feel like he had written this just for me. 

As the book is translated, I feel I need to also thank the translator for doing such a superb job of making it possible for those of us who don’t speak French to read this phenomenal novel. I can only imagine the amount of time and effort it took. Thank you. 

Sharp, stylish, intense, and utterly mind-blowing, this fast-paced thriller is so twisty it will make your head spin. So just hold on tight and enjoy the ride. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

From one novel to the next, Guillaume Musso has formed a unique bond with his readers. Born in 1974 in Antibes on the French Riviera, he fell in love with literature at an early age, spending all his free time devouring books at the public library where his mother worked. A short story competition organized by his French teacher led him to discover the joys of writing, and he has never stopped since then.

His studies, his extended trips to the United States, his encounters… All have contributed to enriching his imagination and his writing projects. A graduate in social economics, he became a teacher in the East and then the South of France. He published his first novel, Skidamarink, in 2001, but his next book Et Après…, is the one that truly won the public over. This story of love and suspense with supernatural undertones marked the beginning of a dazzling and unwavering success.

Translated into forty languages and adapted many times for film, each book of his is as hugely successful as the next in both France and around the world. The release of a new novel by Guillaume Musso has become, for his readers, an eagerly awaited rendezvous.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*| Amazon| Google Books | Apple Books | Kobo
*These are affiliate links

********

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Woman in the Water by Kelly Heard

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Noir Fiction, Gothic Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this atmospheric thriller. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.

********

SYNOPSIS:

How do I keep my family safe, when I don’t know why we’re in danger?

When I get the call, the promise I made to myself to never return to Brightwater is shattered in an instant. The police tell me that my sister Holly slipped and drowned near the old boardwalk, that she was found floating in the dark water of the lake. I am now all my little nieces have left and I need to come home right away, to care for them.

But I know Holly would never have gone out on the water by choice.

As I approach the sign to Brightwater, painful memories start to flood back—of former friends, of my first heartbreak, of dangerous secrets I’d rather forget. Because deep down I know Holly’s death wasn’t an accident. It was a warning. A warning directly aimed at me and those I care about.

I always thought it was just me and Holly who knew what happened all those years ago. But it is clear someone else knows. And they want to make us pay.

But what if the little girls are next? I know I have to protect them. But there are secrets out there in the water. And every one of them could tear our family apart…

An absolutely gripping, twisty psychological thrillerthat will keep you turning the pages late into the night. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the TrainThe Woman in the Window and The Silent Patient.

********

MY REVIEW:

Felicity Wheeler returns to her hometown after her sister Holly is found drowned in the swamp. The death is ruled an accident but Felicity knows her sister would never be out on that water, especially in a storm. Not after what happened all those years ago. Returning to take care of her nieces, Felicity begins to investigate her sister’s death. But there is someone who doesn’t want her to find out the truth. Someone who will stop at nothing to keep their secrets hidden. 

The Woman in the Water is a story full of secrets and suspicion. A story about a fractured family, tragic death and search for answers. Told in dual timelines we follow as Felicity returns to a hometown full of painful memories to fulfill her sister’s wishes and try to find out what really happened to her the night she died. It is well written, with some beautiful imagery and prose, and there is a ghostly atmosphere at times that I loved, though I would have liked even more. I did find it predictable in places, but the author leaves  you with enough doubt and questions to keep you turning the pages and invested in the story. 

I liked Felicity. She is flawed, layered and relatable. Before Holly’s death she hadn’t been home since leaving under a cloud of rumour and scandal. In the flashbacks the author slowly unveils the traumatic and life-changing events that broke the sisters’ relationship and led to Felicity leaving home so young. The author acutely conveys the torment and pain it causes Felicity to face her past and be back in her hometown. 

Dark, tense and twisty, this was a quick and entertaining read that fans of the genre will enjoy. 

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Kelly Heard is a novelist from Afton, Virginia. She published poetry in literary magazines before signing her debut novel, Before You Go, with Bookouture.

Kelly prefers writing to most other pastimes, but you’ll occasionally find her in the garden, hiking, or exploring antique shops.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon | Google Books | Apple Books | Kobo

********

Categories
Audio Books Blog Tours book reviews

Audio Blog Tour: Mr. Todd’s Reckoning by Iain Maitland

Published: August 1st, 2021
Publisher: Isis Audio
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Format: Audio, Paperback, Kindle

I’m delighted to be opening the blog tour for the chilling Mr. Todd’s Reckoning. Thank you to Isis Audio for the gifted audiobook.

SYNOPSIS:

Behind the normal door of a normal house, in a normal street, two men are slowly driving each other insane. One of them is a psychopath. The father: Mr Todd is at his wits’ end. He’s been robbed of his job as a tax inspector and is now stuck at home…with him. Frustrated. Lonely. Angry. Really angry. The son: Adrian has no job, no friends. He is at home all day, obsessively chopping vegetables and tap-tap-tapping on his computer. And he’s getting worse, disappearing for hours at a time, sneaking off to who-knows-where. The unholy spirit: In the safety of suburbia, one man has developed a taste for killing. And he’ll kill again.

********

MY REVIEW:

“I do only what has to be done. What I have to do.” 

An ordinary man on an ordinary street is hiding grim secrets in this dark and sinister thriller.  

The story is told in the form of Mr. Todd’s diary entries, which he has been advised to keep to fill his day and to work through his feelings after a difficult time in his life. At first he seems like a man down on his luck who’s frustrated at where he has ended up in life and feels like he doesn’t deserve what has happened to him. It is a slow-burner and I admit I found it hard to get into at first. But a blogger whose opinion I trust had rated it as one of her favourite books this year so I decided to persist. I am thankful I did as things began to pick up and I soon found myself completely immersed in this story full of secrets that I was desperate to unlock.

“I think it is time now… that I write about what I’ve kept hidden deep inside me for a while.” 

The protagonist lives with his adult son, Adrian, who I think is neuro-diverse but his father views as weird and annoying. He spends a lot of time worrying what he is up to and that he’s getting into trouble again. It is here that the first seeds of suspicion and something ominous appear as we worry that Adrian is hiding a terrible secret as his father tries desperately to unravel it. But it soon becomes clear that is in fact Mr. Todd who has the secret, and we begin to see the first glimpses of the real man lurking beneath his harmless façade. 

“Although I have ended lives, I do not consider myself a bad sort of chap.”

Malcolm Todd is a chilling creation who is so realistic that it sent shivers down my spine. He is a miserable, bitter, angry and judgmental man who thinks he’s more intelligent and better than everyone else. He also has a real sense of entitlement about everything in life. He’s one of those people where things are always someone else’s fault and anything he did wrong he was forced to do or had no other choice. He made me so angry, but it was these awful things about him that made him so compelling as I find the damaged and twisted psyche of these kinds of people fascinating. He was brilliantly written and I can understand the comparisons to Norman Bates as he definitely gave me that vibe too. 

Claustrophobic, menacing and unnerving, this subtle and slithering psychological thriller will leave you wondering just who and what is lurking behind your neighbours’ doors…

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

You can purchase the book here

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Iain Maitland is the author of Sweet William and Mr Todd’s Reckoning, both published by Contraband, an imprint of Saraband. Mr Todd’s Reckoning has been optioned for TV by AbbottVision. His next book, The Scribbler, the first in the Gayther & Carrie detective series, is published by Contraband in May 2020.

********

MEET THE NARRATOR:

Michael Simkins trained at RADA. He has appeared in more than 70 plays, stage highlights include A View from the Bridge at the National Theatre as well as musicals Chicago and Mamma Mia. He also directed Alan Ayckbourn’s Absent Friends at the Greenwich Theatre. He has made countless TV appearances – recent credits include Foyle’s War and My Family – as well as turns on the silver screen in such films as Mike Leigh’s Topsy-Turvy. He has worked with luminaries as diverse as Anthony Perkins, John Malkovich, Michael Gambon and Buster Merryfield. He lives with his actress wife Julia in London.

********

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Girls Who Lie (Forbidden Iceland Book 2) by Eva Bjorg Aegisdottir

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Psychological Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Happy Publication Day to this gripping thriller.

Thank you Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Karen at Orenda for the eBook ARC.

********

SYNOPIS:

When a depressed, alcoholic single mother disappears, everything suggests suicide, but when her body is found, Icelandic Detective Elma and her team are thrust into a perplexing, chilling investigation.

_____________

When single mother Maríanna disappears from her home, leaving an apologetic note on the kitchen table, everyone assumes that she’s taken her own life … until her body is found on the Grábrók lava fields seven months later, clearly the victim of murder. Her neglected fifteen-year-old daughter Hekla has been placed in foster care, but is her perfect new life hiding something sinister?

Fifteen years earlier, a desperate new mother lies in a maternity ward, unable to look at her own child, the start of an odd and broken relationship that leads to a shocking tragedy.

Police officer Elma and her colleagues take on the case, which becomes increasingly complex, as the number of suspects grows and new light is shed on Maríanna’s past – and the childhood of a girl who never was like the others…

Breathtakingly chilling and tantalisingly twisty, Girls Who Lie is at once a startling, tense psychological thriller and a sophisticated police procedural, marking Eva Björg Ægisdottir as one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.
_______________

Book 1 in the series, The Creak on the Stairs, WON THE CWA JOHN CREASEY NEW BLOOD DAGGER

********

MY REIVEW:

Seven months after her disappearance, the beaten body of single mother Marianna is found in a cave in the lava field. Detective Elma and her team are thrown into a difficult investigation where there are few clues and no real suspects. But as they slowly delve deeper into Marianna’s life, they discover that the case is much more complex than they anticipated and the clues begin to take them in a surprising direction. 

The story moves between the investigation into the murder and flashbacks to the life of an unknown single mother. It was these chapters that I enjoyed most of all because we get a deeper insight into her character than any other. But this is contrasted with the fact that her identity is a mystery, adding an extra layer of intrigue to the story. In these chapters we follow the young woman’s struggle to connect with her daughter and be a good mother. They were heart-rending, disturbing and affecting. Filled with raw emotion and uncomfortable truths. They highlighted the difficulties of motherhood we don’t always want to admit and the shades of gray we don’t always see when we paint someone as a ‘bad parent’. The author continues exploring these themes in the present day with the storyline of Marianna being a neglectful mother whose relationship with her daughter was so troubled that she wanted to live with foster parents. While hard to read at times, it is well written, sensitive and a thought-provoking commentary on motherhood and the problems that lie within social services.

This is the second book in the Forbidden Iceland series but my first time reading this author’s books. Despite that I never felt confused as the author quickly catches you up, enabling this to be read as a standalone or part of the series. I have already bought the first book in the series and plan to read any further books by this author after loving this one. Elma was a great protagonist who is likeable, relatable and has an interesting backstory. The author managed to hit that sweet spot of showing the reader Elma’s personal life and history without saturating the story, enabling us to feel a connection while still being able to focus on the case she’s trying to solve. The supporting and background characters are compelling and richly drawn which kept me hooked on the story and provided an abundance of suspects. 

A harrowing, complex and multilayered thriller with a twist that comes like a bolt out of the blue, Girls Who Lie is another amazing read from Orenda Books. I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys crime fiction. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Born in Akranes in 1988, Eva Björg Ægisdóttir studied for an MSc in Globalisation in Norway before returning to Iceland and deciding to write a novel – something she had wanted to do since she won a short-story competition at the age of fifteen. After nine months combining her writing with work as a stewardess and caring for her children, Eva finished The Creak on the Stairs. It was published in 2018, and became a bestseller in Iceland, going on to win the Blackbird Award, a prize set up by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and Ragnar Jónasson to encourage new Icelandic crime writers. The Creak on the Stairs was published in English by Orenda Books in 2020, and became a number-one bestseller in ebook in three countries, and shortlisted for the Capital Crime/Amazon Publishing Awards in two categories. Girls Who Lie, the second book in the Forbidden Iceland series, is published in 2021. Dubbed the ‘Icelandic Ruth Rendell’ by the British press, Eva lives in Reykjavík with her husband and three children and is currently working on the third book in the Forbidden Iceland series.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda | Waterstones* | Bookshop.org* | Amazon | Apple Books | Kobo
*These are affiliate links

********

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours Book Features

Book Feature: Woman of a Certain Rage by Georgie Hall

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Humorous Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Romance Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Today I’m featuring the hilarious Woman of a Certain Rage as part of the blog tour. Thank you to Head of Zeus for the gifted ARC.

********

SYNOPSIS:

A smart and funny novel about love, life and a second shot at freedom for rebellious women of a certain age.

Eliza is angry. Very angry, and very, very hot.

Late for work and dodging traffic, she’s still reeling from the latest row with husband Paddy. Twenty-something years ago, their eyes met over the class divide in oh-so-cool Britpop London, but while Paddy now seems content filling his downtime with canal boats and cricket, Eliza craves the freedom and excitement of her youth. Fifty sounds dangerously close to pensionable: her woke children want to cancel her, a male motorist has just called her a ‘mad old bat’ and to cap it all her hormones are on the run. Who knew menopause was puberty’s evil older sister?

But then a moment of heroism draws an unexpected admirer, and Eliza sets out to discover whether the second half of life can be a glass half full after all. She might suffer mental fog and night sweats – and have temporarily mislaid her waist – but this is her renaissance.

Woman of a Certain Rage is a smart and funny novel for all women who won’t be told it’s too late to shake things up.

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Georgie Hall is the alter-ego of best-selling author and woman of a certain (r)age, Fiona Walker. Stepping aside from her usual big-cast comedies to write as Georgie, she has her sharp-eyed wit firmly fixed on midlife, marriage, motherhood and menopause. Woman of a Certain Rage is for women everywhere who refuse to be told it’s too late to shake things up.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*| Amazon | Google Books| Kobo
*These are affiliate links

********

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Penguin UK
Genre: Romance Novel, Contemporary Novel, Humorous Fiction, Domestic Fiction, New Adult Fiction, Holiday Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this fun summer romance that is published tomorrow. Thank you to Penguin UK for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

********

SYNOPSIS:

TWO FRIENDS
TEN SUMMER TRIPS

THEIR LAST CHANCE TO FALL IN LOVE

12 SUMMERS AGO: Poppy and Alex meet. They hate each other, and are pretty confident they’ll never speak again.

11 SUMMERS AGO: They’re forced to share a ride home from college and by the end of it a friendship is formed. And a pact: every year, one vacation together.

10 SUMMERS AGO: Alex discovers his fear of flying on the way to Vancouver.
Poppy holds his hand the whole way.

7 SUMMERS AGO: They get far too drunk and narrowly avoid getting matching tattoos in New Orleans.

2 SUMMERS AGO: It all goes wrong.

THIS SUMMER: Poppy asks Alex to join her on one last trip. A trip that will determine the rest of their lives.

You and Me on Vacation is a New York Times bestselling love story for fans of When Harry Met Sally and One Day. Get ready to travel the world, snort with laughter and – most of all – lose your heart to Poppy and Alex.

********

MY REVIEW:

“It’s fascinating. How much of love is who you are with someone.”

You and Me on Vacation is a warm, witty, slow-burning romance that is perfect to read on a hot summer’s day. 

The story follows the familiar best friends to lovers trope, exploring the trepidation, fear and complications that can arise when you fall in love with your closest friend. While it was often predictable, this wasn’t a bad thing, and the author injected some additional mystery and tension with the inclusion of an unknown event two years earlier that had led to them not speaking since. I liked this as it made the book  more than a simple ‘will they or won’t they’ story and I felt like their tentative steps to rebuilding their friendship made me root for them from the start. There were times it felt like it was a little too drawn out, but the author soon picked up the pace and it was an entertaining read overall. 

I liked Poppy and Alex both individually and as a pair. They had a great dynamic and the spark was clear even before Poppy admitted her feelings. There were some great background characters too and I enjoyed how the author wrote little descriptions when introducing a new character that gives the reader an instant picture of what they are like. 

Being centred around a travel writer and the vacations she takes with her best friend gave this book a vibe of pure escapism and I loved being able to travel to the various destinations from my back garden during a pandemic. But the current situation also made the book feel wistful and it felt like I was reading about another life. It really made me miss the days where we could just hop on a plane and go somewhere new without a second thought. *Sigh* 

If you’re looking for a book to escape with and a good way to wile away a few hours in the sun, then this entertaining romance is the book for you. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Emily Henry is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of People We Meet on Vacation and Beach Read, as well as several young adult novels. She lives and writes in the Cincinnati and the part of Kentucky just beneath it.

Her books have been featured in Buzzfeed, Oprah Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, The Skimm, Shondaland, Betches, Bustle, and more.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*| Amazon| Google Books | Apple Books| Kobo
*These are affiliate links

********

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Art of Loving You by Amelia Henley

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Romance Novel, Contemporary Romance, Suspense, Domestic Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my review of this gorgeous novel. Thank you HQ for the eBook ARC and invitation to take part.

*********

SYNOPSIS:

They were so in love . . .
And then life changed forever . . .
Will they find happiness again?
 
Libby and Jack are the happiest they’ve ever been. Thanks to their dear friend, eighty-year-old Sid, they’ve just bought their first house together, and it’s the beginning of the life they’ve always dreamed of.

But the universe has other plans for Libby and Jack and a devastating twist of fate shatters their world.
 
All of a sudden life is looking very different, and unlikely though it seems, might Sid be the one person who can help Libby and Jack move forward when what they loved the most has been lost?
 
The Art of Loving You is a beautiful love story for our times. Romantic and uplifting, it will break your heart and then put it back together again. Perfect for fans of Rebecca Serle, Josie Silver and Sophie Cousens.

********

MY REIVEW:

“The butterfly effect. The delicate flutter of wings. The tiniest change leading to chaos, catastrophe, an ordered life falling apart.”

The Art of Loving You is a different kind of love story. An exploration of love, grief and the afterlife, it looks at what we do with the love we have for someone when they are suddenly gone and asks how we find new meaning when life feels meaningless. 

It is narrated by Libby, who has been left heartbroken and adrift after the sudden death of her soulmate Jack. But it isn’t only grief that she is struggling with, Libby is also finding it hard to trust people and the world around her. She is stuck in a tortuous roller-coaster that she can’t seem to get off. Family and friends rally around and do their best, but nothing helps. All she wants is the one thing she can’t have: Jack. 

Skillfully written, every page is coated in pain, but there is a hopefulness that creeps in and some funny moments that lighten the mood. But the writing device I enjoyed most of all was how Libby would insert snippets of things that are yet to happen or be revealed, referencing her ignorant bliss before something rocked her world. This happens mostly at the end of a chapter, a cunning ploy by the author to make the book impossible to put down that totally worked on this reader. That devilish hint of foreboding that kept me on the edge of my seat and made me think I’d read just one more chapter; and then another, and another. Before I knew it I’d flown through half the book. Well written and well played, Ms. Henley. 

“Enjoy the beer and skittles days.”

There are some wonderful and fascinating characters in the book and I really liked both Libby and Jack, but the one who stole my heart was Sid. Delightful, funny and wise, he brightened up every scene he was in and I could have happily read an entire book just about him. I loved his relationship with Jack and Libby and I feel like I need to write his words of wisdom in a notebook. He is a character that I won’t forget and I think will make an impact on everyone who reads this book. 

Uplifting, emotional, heartbreaking and hopeful, The Art of Loving You is an hopelessly romantic tearjerker that also manages to be funny and real. A truly beautiful and captivating story that I highly recommend. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Amelia Henley is a hopeless romantic who has a penchant for exploring the intricacies of relationships through writing heart-breaking, high-concept love stories.

Amelia also writes psychological thrillers under her real name, Louise Jensen. As Louise Jensen she has sold over a million copies of her global number one bestsellers. Her stories have been translated into twenty-five languages and optioned for TV as well as featuring on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestsellers list. Louise’s books have been nominated for multiple awards.

‘The Life We Almost Had’ is the first story she’s written as Amelia Henley and is out now, published by HQ, Harper Collins. ‘The Art of Loving You’ publishes this July.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*| Amazon| Google Books| Apple Books| Kobo
*These are affiliate books

********

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the blog blast.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx